With 22 laps completed out of a scheduled 90, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama has been postponed until Monday, April 23. The race will resume at 11:30 AM Eastern with the broadcast resuming on NBCSN.
The race started with moderate rain on top of a soaked Barber Motorsports Park, though all entries made it through the first few laps without major incident. An interesting aspect was that INDYCAR ordered a single-file start to the event, and even the first official lap of the race was run under yellow flag conditions.
The first driver to make a mistake was Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti, who was holding steady in 7th behind teammate Alexander Rossi until he spun his Honda on corner exit which cost him nearly 10 spots. Drivers began to really feel the wrath of the conditions following that point as complaints began rushing through team radios of visibility issues.
Harding Racing’s Gabby Chaves had to pit for a visor that was fogging up and reducing his visibility, and shortly after that, Ed Jones ran into the back of Charlie Kimball which forced the No. 23 into the wall at the final corner. A full course yellow followed shortly thereafter when Kimball stalled on the second half of the track.
On the next restart, leader Josef Newgarden caught the eye of spectators when his Team Penske machine darted quickly left before he gathered it back in. His teammate running in second was less fortunate as Will Power hydroplaned, sending his No. 12 Chevrolet hard into the pit wall which would end his day.
“I just hydroplaned,” Power recalled in speaking with NBCSN. “I had no control and spun … I just can’t believe they went green with all of that standing water.”
Much to Power’s dismay, the red flag would be shown just moments later due to inclement weather conditions. This came just as Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, a five-time runner-up at Barber, was about to visit pit lane for a new helmet as moisture was entering his head protection device, reducing visibility.
After nearly 40 minutes spent in red flag conditions, the engines re-fired and teams began warming up during pace laps when Tony Kanaan’s A.J. Foyt Racing machine began suffering from electronic issues keeping his car from shifting. Kanaan would stop on track before getting his No. 14 machine going again and visiting pit lane at the end of that lap.
After about ten minutes of yellow flag pacing, INDYCAR heeded to the advice of pace car driver Oriol Servia and the opinions of the field in stating the track had gotten worse.
Many drivers exited their cars shivering violently due to the damp, chilly conditions, including Sebastien Bourdais, Max Chilton and Ryan Hunter-Reay all reporting a case of the shakes. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver James Hinchcliffe appeared a bit warmer than the rest when he reported to NBCSN that he had to use the restroom in his car for the first time in his career, much to the dismay of his No. 5 crewmates.
Finally, just before 5:00 PM local time, news began to circulate that INDYCAR was going to postpone the race as it had not hit a halfway mark just yet (by either time or laps) and therefore was not official.
Pole sitter Josef Newgarden, the defending race winner at Barber driving the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet this weekend, led every lap until the race was halted and will pick up in first place on Monday. Barber Motorsports Park announced that it will open its gates and allow fans to attend the conclusion without a ticket.
“It’s tough because we have so many people that come out here to watch us,” said Newgarden, the reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion. “We want to put on a good race. We want to put on a show, so calling the race, it’s tough to do that.
“But I think it was the right thing in the end. When we started the race, the conditions were OK. You could run at that level of rain. Then it intensified right before that first caution. It got to a point where it was just too much. There was too much puddling and pooling of water.
“Look, we love racing in the rain. It’s got nothing to do with not wanting to run in the rain, not being able to do that. It’s this type of track with this water level was too much to race today.”
Currently the Fast Six as we wait for the re-fire tomorrow:
- Josef Newgarden, Team Penske, Chevrolet
- Sebastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing, Honda
- Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport, Honda
- Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport, Honda
- James Hinchcliffe, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Honda
- Zach Veach, Andretti Autosport, Honda
The cars and stars of the Verizon IndyCar Series will re-start the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on Monday, April 23 with the telecast beginning at 11:30 AM Eastern on NBCSN. The green flag is expected to fall at 12:00 PM Eastern.
Stay tuned to Open-Wheels.com for updates on the race tomorrow.